Assessing YouTube's Original Content Channels, Six Months In

Last fall, YouTube announced it would launch more than 100 original content channels across its site in 2012. Now that we’re six months into the year, it’s time to assess how YouTube’s original content channels have fared so far.

To date, 87 channels are live on the site, with another 17 on the way. Collectively, the content channels have racked up more than 12 million subscribers and nearly 7 billion total video views.

So is that good or bad?

Well, the numbers are a little misleading, Ars Technica’s Nathan Matisse points out. Many of these so-called “new” original content channels are actually old Internet brands. For example, The Onion, whose new channel is still forthcoming, already has 400,000 subscribers and 177 million views before officially launching.

Moreover, the top-performing channels account for a disproportionate amount of subscribers and views. MachinimaPrime, the top channel, has 4 million+ subscribers and close to 3.5 billion video views. Justin Bieber’s channel has 1.5 million subscribers and 2.5 billion views.

Meanwhile, lesser performers like EverydayHealthTV, which launched in April, only have a handful of subscribers and less than 2,000 views.

Ultimately, Matisse says, “more than half a year after the launch, calling any of the original content channels ‘defining channels of the next generation’ feels like a stretch.” And that’s not necessarily the fault of YouTube or the YouTube content creators.

Sure, some major Hollywood players are lending their names to certain projects -- but at least for now, “these efforts lack the attention of their cable-based counterparts.” What media outlets are devoting critics to covering them? And speaking of attention, what happened to the $200 million YouTube said it would devote to marketing its original content channels?

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